Let Me Put This Simply:

(This is all pending me doing the research and calculations myself. I planned to wait until January to get a calendar year, but I’ve begun to fear the CDC is going to remove/hide/make it even more difficult to find the data. So, maybe in a week or two, I’ll see if I can grab all the needed numbers.)

Well, I’ll try to put it simply as I can, but unfortunately, it’s not simple in and of itself.

All this is based on or said to be based on CDC data; the gross numbers I’ve looked up myself; the details, most important of which are excess deaths by cause of death, I will seek to verify soon.

As of November 25, the CDC listed 240,213 deaths where COVID was “involved.” One has to do a little math to figure this next number out: the CDC also shows 290,213 “excess” deaths up to 11/21 – closest date I could find. So, on the surface, those numbers seem to tie to a reasonable degree: one might expect 240,213 “excess” death if COVID, which was not taken into consideration when the baseline was established, has in fact killed that many people. 290,213 is fairly close, at least.

The claim, as discussed here, is that, by drilling down into the details under causes of death, one finds that 123,681 of the “excess” deaths are people who have died from causes unrelated to COVID. The plausible claim: these are people who died as a result of the stress and disruptions in care resulting from the lockdowns and general panic. It’s difficult to imagine anything else besides the damn virus unique about this year that would kill so many people.

If this is so, then that leaves:

290,213 “excess” deaths

minus

123,681 “excess” deaths where COVID was not involved

equals

166,532 – On the surface, that would seem to be the maximum number of deaths that could have been caused by COVID.

If the excess deaths from non-COVID causes are caused by the panic and lockdown – certainly plausible – then the big question is: how many of the deaths where COVID was determined to be “involved” were, in reality, also caused by the panic and lockdowns? Think about it for a minute: all the already sickly elderly in nursing homes and hospitals are then denied visits from their loved ones, are treated as disease vectors by their care givers, possibly have their care curtailed or delayed, and are otherwise terrified out of their wits – is that going to kill some people? Now, think about other sickly people not in nursing homes or hospitals, who canceled or delayed needed treatments because of fear, became more ill, and died. How many such people had the virus ‘involved’ in their deaths?

Don’t imagine for a moment that those 240,213 deaths are only of people who 1) tested positive for an active infection of COVID; 2) had Sudden Acute Respiratory issues – which are what the ‘SAR’ part of ‘SARS 2’ stands for; and 3) died from those issues or complications thereof. That’s what a normal person would expect it means, but that’s not how it works in practice. (1) In practice, the CDC numbers are far more general than that, and include a huge number of people – the very sickly elderly, such as are in nursing homes – who were soon to die of something anyway regardless of any COVID symptoms. Filling out death certificates is more art than science, given the complex circumstances under which most people die – did the cigarettes kill them. or the obesity, or the cancer? Or the asymptomatic COVID that the tests say they had? Are you, a doctor in the middle of a ‘pandemic,’ going to leave COVID off despite the positive test result because you observed no symptoms? Will your state’s rules even allow you to?

Bottom line: We will never know how many people COVID actually killed, which is inevitably true in the real world for virtually all fatal diseases. A very serious independent audit of all death certificates where COVID was determined to be involved might help eliminate the more egregious cases, but it’s simply not possible to get anything other than a range of estimates. That said, it is certainly plausible that many fewer people were killed by this disease than even the CDC’s not-panic-worthy numbers suggest.

I note here that, according to the WHO’s pre-COVID forecast, about 2.93 million Americans would die this year in the normal course of things. Straight lining from where we are now to the end of the year comes in 50,000 deaths under that projection. Of course, delayed reporting, slop, different forecasting methods, could eat that 50,000 shortfall up easily. Still, it sure doesn’t look like pandemic-level additional deaths anyway you slice it.

  1. Remember, that 240,213 number is deaths where COVID was “involved”. The process works like this: CDC gets all death certificates from every state; if COVID shows up on a death cert, it is coded as “involved” in the death. The local doctor or coroner who fills out the death certificates follows a large and confusing set of instructions, both from the CDC and state jurisdictions. In very few cases is cause of death straightforward. The elderly, in particular, tend to have a whole constellation of things going wrong with their bodies. Cause of death is a judgement call; many causes and factors can be included. The CDC guidelines are very generous for including COVID; some state rules are even more insistent that COVID be included if it cannot be ruled out.

The Amazing Power of Euphemisms

Never read any Goebbels, but he is reported to have said words to the effect:

Lie big, and stick with it.

and

Always accuse your enemies of what you are doing.

Therefore, it’s not enough to establish a group tasked with guillotining your enemies and persecuting and killing any who oppose you – you need to call it the Committee For Public Safety. You name your propaganda organ Truth (Pravda). You exterminate 65 million peasants and torture and abuse millions more, and call it a Great Leap Forward. Invade a country and start shooting people? You’re pacifying the population. Drive people from their land at the point of a gun? You’re rationalizing borders. And so sickeningly on.

More modern examples: imposing totalitarian control? Call it tolerance and critical thinking. Seizing control of 1/6th of the economy? Call it instituting Affordable Care. Label the most corrupt administration in history scandal-free. Imposing magical thinking under the threat of violence is believing the science. Or, to today’s point: imposing humiliation rituals and physical abuse? Call it public health measures.

The sad part: it works. It works like a charm.

Today’s mini-post: pay no attention to what the proponents of a position name their program or state their goals. Look instead at the details and evidence.

Flash Fiction: A Trumpet Sounds

Somebody got a nuke. 90 seconds after a pirate broadcast announcing that Heaven had withdrawn its mandate and the rest of the world was ordered to stand down, Beijing went up in a high megaton mushroom cloud.

The Chinese Communist Central Committee had been meeting in Beijing. Within minutes, conventional weapons began to strike sites around China, some obvious, some mysterious to western observers. It looked like a well planned decapitation. Not so well planned that the Middle Kingdom did not descend into chaos.

Dominos around the world began to fall. Over the course of hours, then days, then weeks, failsafes put in place by Chinese leaders and operatives released certain pieces of information to specific people and organizations most in a position to take action.

Information was distributed as the case demanded. Some figures were widely exposed, with selected watchdog and law enforcement people around the world getting it. Others found themselves confronted by individuals who they had done very wrong. Violent individuals. The Left, in particular, ate itself alive.

Shootouts broke out in the CIA and FBI, as players and agents found out exactly where they stood in the plans of their enemies and friends. Operators were given very specific information and very convincing evidence about who planned to do what to whom. The bloodbaths within the factions was worse than that between them.

Similar situations prevailed in tech, industry, and of course the political parties. Those who were not themselves killers certainly knew people who were, or quickly died. One third of the Catholic hierarchy went into hiding or otherwise disappeared. Exorcists found themselves very busy. The education leadership almost entirely vanished. College faculties whined, found that no one was listening, then found out some very unpleasant people were listening, and fell silent, but only after a few true believers were tarred and feathered.

The media spasmed, twitched, and died. At first, the major news organizations tried to spin hard, but this was so far off narrative no consistent story emerged, No one knew if the next story they ‘reported’ would get them killed and so reported nothing; a couple live on the air executions put a damper on the 4th estate’s enthusiasms, and it fell silent.

Social media suffered the same fate. Direct satellite uplinks created a new internet, outside the control of the tech oligarchs. The satellite network was too big to shut down or shoot down; anyone with a dish could get access outside the control of our betters. This favored those in the country and far from cities, who had dishes because they deplorably lacked cable. For a while, the Chinese disinformation machine tried to keep the flow going, but its operatives were coming under the same or greater pressure. Eventually, the idea of a citizen press became a reality.

The news, as reported by citizens and despite the wild rumors that inevitably got through, was more free and accurate than it had been in 200 years.

Banking, built as it is on trust and caution, effectively ceased. Those confident in their widely distributed wealth faced sudden poverty.

The assault on the White House was exciting, but ultimately brief and unsuccessful. A persistent and believable rumor arose that one heroic member of the President’s security detail discovered who the moles were in the nick of time, took direct action, and died for it – but not before the inside men’s cover was blown. Several fighter pilots, disobeying commands, shot down their peers coming in for bombing runs. Chaos broke out in the Pentagon. The ground assault was over in minutes, as the White House countermeasures worked like a charm. An eerie silence fell on Pennsylvania Avenue as properties all around burned.

And the President had a satellite uplink. The news now regularly carried his speeches and directives in full. Those outside the cities got their news and instructions unfiltered, and were the first to restore order.

All this took time, of course. The Chinese had merely installed safeguards to keep individuals in line; they had not intended it as a world-ending trip bomb. One high-level disappearance or public shooting would start to worry the next man in line; the empty offices, the rumors, the dead phonelines – eventually, Scripture was fulfilled: the guilty fled where none pursued. Even the Chinese, employing the ancient inscrutable cunning that had produced Sun Tsu, had not concerned themselves with what would happen if they all ceased to be in a flash of hydrogen fusion. The mechanisms they had laid in did not, of course, know this, and so the serpent uncoiled itself and fed for months, unsated.

It was almost a pity the Chinese Communist leadership was no longer around to enjoy it.

The rest of the world was not spared. True globalization had been achieved, where not only mammon, but guilt recognized no borders. There were a few Talleyrands, but very few. There were a few comfortable retirements in obscure third-world countries, but only financially comfortable. For months following the Chinese Event, mobs or hit men discovered a former executive in Bolivia or a political operative in New Zealand, and the results were not pleasant for them.

And that’s where we end up today. The relief efforts of flyover country and the rural areas of the other states, shipping in potatoes, flour, and beans to the smoldering cities, have kept many alive. For obvious reasons, flight from the cities to the country is heavily regulated at the point of a gun, but not out of malice. If the city populations are to be kept alive, then the country cannot be overwhelmed by people useless in the production of that food.

Leadership from Washington is, despite all history and suspicion, leading. Gradually, peace is penetrating back into the cities as looters are shot on sight, and traitors are tried and hanged. Once given a look into the bloody maw of the beast, most people are fine with this. Chicago, what’s left of it, anyway, holds out, of course. Seattle was promptly overrun by the more sane people from the suburbs. No one much knows what’s going on in L.A., as it has become in fact what it always was in its own mind – its own special universe.

No one knows how this will turn our. Taiwan and the surviving dissidents in Hong Kong have made large inroads into the coastal areas of China, but, in accordance with ancient tradition, the interior is ruled by warlords. The Catholic Church has become the main channel of order and charity over much of China. Japan, a spectator for the most part, is having a baby boom.

Europe is a mess. The Sons of the Winged Hussars have managed to restore some order in the East, and Poland, of course, rode it out all but unscathed. The operatives and traitors were exposed to few people’s surprise, and were tried and shot. Your average African and Latin American hardly noticed a difference, while those with ties to China tended to simply vanish.

We are all eagerly awaiting the election of the new pope.

Desensitization and Projection

Just watched a video where visual effects artists critiqued the CG and practical effects on some show called The Boys.

Well. So this is what the kids are watching these days. Further evidence they’ve lost their minds.

I turned 12 in 1970, so, in some way, movies from that decade were among my first experiences of grown up story telling. This one movie I remember from early in that decade had an antihero who casually murders or leaves to die a number of people. The one that sticks: some woman was gagged, bound, and thrown into the trunk of a car; the protagonist walks away as the car rolls into the water and sinks.

12 year old me was shocked. I might have missed what that women did in the movie that might explain the antihero’s actions, but I couldn’t fathom just letting her drown.

And so on, movie after movie. Between the lack of patience I developed from attempting to watch irrational TV shows and the horror I felt at some movies, I all but stopped consuming those media. When my then girlfriend dragged me to see Star Wars in 1977, I went only because she insisted. The last movies I can remember seeing in a theater before that were Andromeda Strain (1971); 2001 (1968); Towering Inferno (1974); Afterwards, I caught Close Encounters (1977) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and I think I saw Rocky (1976) later. As far as I can remember, anything else I saw from the 70s was on TV or in an arthouse at later dates.

The Towering Inferno (1974) | Disaster Movie World
Not just a metaphor for the modern world. This was not a good movie. Robert Redford was in it = totally forgot that.

You probably noticed that I skipped all the supposed classics from that era., sometimes called the greatest era of movies in history. Some were easy to miss, since I didn’t drive for the first half of the decade and so was limited in my opportunities. But even after I got my license, movies were way down my list unless they had an interesting Sci Fi premise or tie-in. I just didn’t find ‘serious’ portrayals of casual murder attractive; hated it, in fact.

Star Wars did blow my mind. Given the level of dreck passing for great movies – oops, I mean, cinema – at the time, my expectations were below low. But it delivered, visually stunning (we forget how awesome it looked. Jaw dropping.) with characters you cared about and a story that, as a fairytale, made sense.

Yes, millions of people die in that movie, mostly on Alderaan and the Death Star, but plenty get shot or otherwise disposed of. But, in keeping with the fairytale style, you know, where a hundred perfectly fine princes can die trying to rescue the princess before the *right* prince comes along, death is treated rather impersonally. Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen are hardly spared a glance of mourning, for example. Hey, Luke has a beanstalk to climb! No time for emotions! And the deaths are mostly highly sanitized, again, after the fashion of the genre. No spurting blood or long death agonies; no twitching storm trooper corpses.

Recently rewatched Rocky (picked up a DVD for $1) and it was kind of painful. The pacing is odd; in between the fairytale, dark stuff is going on. But – when I first saw it, I was excited – the good guy has a satisfying moral triumph, loyalty and effort are rewarded, we even get a little true love. Beautiful. The contrast with the usual 70s fare was enough to elevate it for me.

Basically, my movie tastes have not changed since then, except that I’ve seen A LOT of kids movies: I want cool premises, characters I can care about, and, well, stuff that blows up. I don’t want nihilism, bad guys that are just misunderstood, and definitely don’t want ambiguous or our and out evil endings.

So, back to the video. The Boys contains several spectacular scenes where – heads explode. Lots of heads explode. In gruesome, exquisitely-filmed detail. Of course, I have no context, and, of course, these scenes were chosen for the quality of their effects, not their morality. But it’s hard to imagine a context that would make them any more palatable. Part of what makes the scenes shocking and horrifying is their otherwise pedestrian normalcy – a woman is having a calm discussion with two other people – and her head explodes; there’s some sort of town hall meeting taking place when, one after another, heads explode, blood and flesh are plastered all over the people and walls…

Exploding heads were not the worst of it. The most horrifying scene these visual effects artists reviewed was of a protest rally, thousands of people in the street with signs, etc., protesting, it seems, the extent these superheroes/ supervillains use their superpowers to do stuff outside any control or rules. So, in flies the local Superman-equivalent, in red, white, and blue, planting his landing right next to a woman being heckled by the crowd. Somebody flips him off. He reacts by using his laser visions to slice the guy in half – and to mow down hundreds of protesters. The camera lingers on the mangled, bloody corpses. The VFX dudes admired the artistry of it all.

Utterly shocking. That insult would be met with mass murder is one thing, but the moral inversion is even more stomach-turning, if possible. Making the clean-cut white guy dressed in the colors of Old Glory slaughter people on a whim is another type of fairytale, a demonic one. Like the Handmaid’s Tale (which I have only heard about) and V for Vendetta (which I saw in the theater. Silly me.) the writers invert and project. What was the last time in the West religion used the power of the state for wide-spread persecution? Cromwell? Or perhaps the English persecution of the Irish that lasted well into the 19th century? That one is a bit off base, since it was one nationality/religious group persecuting another nationality/religious group, not Religion beating up on reasonable people as moderns imagine themselves to be.

In the fevered imaginations of the Left, the Spanish Inquisition looms large. Yet, over its whole centuries long existence, the Inquisition didn’t kill or torture as many people as Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin did in a routine day. And that was centuries ago. Unless we want to consider Communism and its conjoined twin National Socialism as religions – I would be down with that – religious persecutions in the West are ancient, comparatively minor (e.g., Salem witch trials), or both.

But such religious persecutions are the norm under our enlightened betters. That whole liberté, égalité, fraternité crowd were sure into killing people for their religious beliefs. The French Revolution thus set the standard for our self-appointed betters, for how those who worship Reason (at, least, say they do) treat those who worship Truth.

This is not news to anyone likely reading this blog, and, in fact, this sort of moral inversion was well established in Sci Fi by the time The Matrix made it cool. Lest we forget, those ‘lots of guns’ were used to mow down the innocent guards in an office building lobby, and the equally blameless soldiers. We know, because the movie goes out of its way to tell us, that those who are not with us – quite literally, those who are not woke – are the enemy, even if they don’t know it. Thus, guards and soldiers plugged into the Matrix, with no way to know it or even suspect it, are gunned down in cold blood without a second thought, with all the gee-whiz and cool the artistry of the filmmakers can bring to the scene.

Thus, for decades now, with only brief interruptions such as Star Wars, we have been bombarded with efforts to make us see how cool it will be when the good guys gun down all those mean people who don’t agree with us. What started as a casual disregard for life in the 70s has become positive glee at killing off those whose beliefs don’t match ours. And it ain’t the Right doing this.

Lord, have mercy!

For the Record…

I will not be taking any COVID vaccine for many years, if ever, and recommend no one take it, either. Because:

  • If it were possible to create effective vaccines against constantly mutating airborne respiratory viruses, we’d all get a one-time flu & cold shot and be done with it. Big Pharma would be highly motivated by the billions they would make on such a vaccine, if it were possible to make it. But we don’t, and nobody has done it. I will believe it when I see it, as in, years of evidence from disinterested parties.
  • Effectiveness and side effects will not be known for many months, probably several years. Beware rush jobs when billions of dollars stand to be made by them.
  • I will not allow our clearly corrupt government to decide for me what I have to do for my health. They don’t care about the 123K people killed by the lockdowns so far; why now so concerned with me and mine?
  • Finally, COVID is such a ridiculous low risk disease for me and anyone even moderately healthy, the idea that I’d need to take any steps at all beyond what one should take for the flu is Orwellian insanity.

Also for the record, I am not anti vax. I’m anti rushed, needless, government and big pharma mandated vaccines that stand to make some people much richer and are designed to humiliate into compliance anyone who dares flip them the bird.

Consider the bird flipped.

The tragically powerful story behind the lone German who ...

Never Forget Founding Flaws

First, a relevant aside: I had real trouble, back in school, studying philosophers from Descartes on, because of one character trait – call it a flaw, if you want – of not being able to set aside foundational nonsense for the sake of understanding all the possibly good stuff putatively built on said nonsense.

To stick with Descartes, his whole ‘go to my room, draw the shades, and see what I can figure out’ exercise is, upon a moment’s reflection, bat-guano crazy. No, Rene, you don’t live in – and write and publish books in – a demon-infested reality inside your own head. That is, you are proven wrong from the get go if – follow closely, now – I am reading your book. Because here I am, reading a book written by a long-dead precocious Frenchman, and, because I am, he’s wrong. If he were right, neither his book nor its reader exist. But they do, therefore, etc.

I can’t then turn around and say, but let’s pretend he’s right, that he and the whole world – putting this into practice – exists only as a creature of my own mind, because I can’t know, as in KNOW-know, that anything outside my own mind even exists.

Riiiiight. My sane, logical, linear mind (1) simply cannot choke this nonsense down and go on. So if Kant, Hegel, etc., have brilliant points to make somewhere after establishing their METAPHYSICS (not a dirty word, but inescapable for actual thought despite getting dissed by moderns who really, truly wish it weren’t so. Tough, schmucks.) I will have likely missed it. I don’t care if Critique of Practical Reason is full of profound insights, because the Prolegomenon to Any Future Metaphysics is high-grade B.S. You can say all you want, Emmanuel, about how you’re not a solipsist, but if you’re not, you’re not being serious in your metaphysics. If you can KNOW that others exist, then you’ve crossed your noumenal/phenomenal divide; if it’s simply a matter of personal belief, then you’re not taking your stated philosophy seriously. You’re trying to escape the solid medieval recognition that we are as sure we share a physical world with others as we are of anything, and that to pretend we’re not is the death, not the birth, of any philosophical investigation. (It’s that whole schola versus sola thing I go on about – do we investigate as part of humanity, or do we investigate as an abstracted, disconnected solo artist? One road leads to insanity.)

I’ve forced myself to read a ton of these jokers, but my appreciation of their more elevated points is perhaps weakened by my dogged grasp of their nonsensical foundations. I think it was Chesterton who advised against having such an open mind that your brain falls out. That’s the risk, here.

This same principle applies to the way I work on science. I don’t care about the claims made that COVID does not bestow immunity to survivors, causes terrible long term lung damage, kills babies, has been caught smoking dope behind the gym, or whatever else the latest ‘studies’ assert – because the foundation of the panic is fraud. To have a pandemic, an unusually high number of people have to die OF the disease. But they’re not, especially not now, and this little fact was completely evident from Day 1. The ONLY group hit hard by the virus was and remains people with one foot already in the grave: elderly sick people, who have very short life expectancies regardless of the virus. Such people account for about 80% of the deaths. An otherwise healthy person, and even a not-too-sickly person, runs very little risk from the virus. For younger people, the risk from COVID is LESS of than that from any old flu bug.

This information is OBVIOUS UPON INSPECTION. The table of deaths by age from Wuhan, as used by that loathsome insect Ferguson in the original Imperial College report that ginned up all the panic in the first place supplies almost all this information. It’s obvious from the data that people over 50 account for virtually all deaths and serious illness. The only piece missing is the state of health of the early elderly victims, but that’s easily supplied by simply thinking about it logically: in a first world country like Italy, the deaths take place largely in nursing homes, precisely where the very sick elderly are concentrated. Largely healthy 85 year olds are not living in nursing homes – really sick 85 year olds are, and so on, across all age bands. In Wuhan, the elderly are more likely to live with their families – in tenements, in poor, crowded conditions. This, because China is a Communist hell-hole, the people are poor, and traditional Chinese culture favors caring for the elderly.

Assuming there is *one* fatality rate across any given age, let alone one across a whole population, is not supported by the data, by which I mean EFFING INSANE. Yet, that’s what we got, in every case. Never any recognition that 60-70% of the deaths occur in the approximately 0.4% of the population in nursing homes. Never any recognition that risks for about 75% of the population is, effectively, background noise. It’s not just that a healthy 30 year old runs, effectively, no risk. A healthy 85 year old really doesn’t, either. That healthy oldster does, of course, run a high risk of dropping dead. At that age, SOMETHING is going to kill him, likely sooner rather than later. It’s called OLD AGE. But does the virus add significantly to that already existing risk that just comes with the territory as you get old? There’s no evidence it does.

If the entire lockdown/mask up reaction is built on anti-science and fear-mongering – and it most definitely is – then I’m not going to sweat the latest claims, as if, now, finally, they’ve stopped lying. Nope. I looked at a few claims early on, and they were as specious as the original Ferguson paper. Not wasting any more time on it, because if my original analysis is correct – and it has been proven to be – then this other stuff is just more fantasy cooked up to keep the cattle spooked.

Nothing new or original here – every honest, moderately intelligent and scientifically literate person who has looked at the actual evidence reaches the same conclusions.

Your chances of dying if you catch the ‘rona are only slightly, if at all, worse than your chances of dying if you don’t. If you are 85 or older, your chances of dying if you don’t catch the virus over the next 12 month are very high, something like 13.6% based on CDC data. If you are 85 or over and live in a nursing home or hospice or otherwise require constant medical care, your chances of dying are much, much worse – you probably won’t make it through the year, whether or not you catch the virus.

Similarly, if you are under 25, your chances of dying over the next 12 months are microscopic, running from under 0.001% to just under 0.07% depending on age and sex. And, if you were to catch the Kung Flu, you risk of death doesn’t change at all. If you don’t kill yourself or get murdered or die in a stupid accident, nothing else is likely to kill you, including the ‘rona.

Seriously. Through 11/25/30, the CDC records a total of 515 deaths “involving” the bug in those 25 and younger. That’s 515 over a population of well over 100M people. If, as the CDC now suggests, over 100,000,000 Americans have been infected over the last year, since the 25 and under crowd is about 30% of the population, then the infection fatality rate across all 25 and under Americans would be something under 0.002% – fewer than 2 in 100,000 infections in people 25 and under result in death. Even this is probably misleading, as those who die are most likely already sick – at least, it certainly appears to be true, and common sense says that being sick in the first place makes getting sicker and even dying more likely.

Add to all this that, so far, there is very little to no evidence asymptomatic people spread the disease, and no evidence children are vectors to adults, and the lockdown and masks are revealed to be INSANE. SATANICLY INSANE.

But very, very politically useful.

So, never forget the foundational fraud here. At this point, every claim of some new horror resulting from the ‘rona should be dismissed with prejudice unless backed with real, hard evidence. Not some rushed ‘study’ or by the same team of hacks that produced this fraud, real evidence, as discussed in the previous post.

  1. And, in a preemptive strike, yes, I know of and use the left side of my brain all the time; e.g., I’ve wasted hours improvising at the piano, letting whatever passes for my non-linear, non-logical muse take over. (The results are better when she lets the left side of my brain drive while she noodles, but still.) I get there’s more to thought than strictly linear, logical processing. ‘More than’ isn’t ‘instead of’.

Link, Update (d*mn virus)

A. This is a must read. (h/t to Sarah Hoyt at Mad Genius Club) Here, a doctor explains how death certificates are filled out, what the instructions given by the CDC are, how the data is tabulated, and what the final counts mean. He reviews the instructions for recording COVID on death certs. Finally, he then explains how these practices result in the COVID numbers we see. Major point, one I’ve been making from the beginning: what the CDC death count shows isn’t what us laymen think of as ‘killed by the virus’. What we think it means: caught the virus, then died of the virus. What shows up in that CDC count are all deaths ‘involving’ the virus to whatever degree. So, to be counted as a COVID death, did the poor dead person

  • Have to die of respiratory problems caused by the virus? NO.
  • Have to have those respiratory problems contribute clearly to their death from some other cause? NO.
  • Have to have tested positive for the virus? NO.
  • Have to show clear symptoms of the virus? NO.

And so on. The virus is assumed ‘involved’ if the dead person had 2 or more symptoms – symptoms common to a near-infinite variety of disorders. Headache and achy muscles? COVID! Coughing and a temperature? COVID! No test needed – that cold or flu or case of exhaustion or allergic reaction or ON AND ON that have those symptoms too? Nope – it’s COVID! 259,000 times – and counting!

Some quotes, but only to get you to go read the whole thing.

Doctors, Coroners and Medical Examiners will calmly explain that “Cause of Death” is complicated and not simple. And they are right. Most of us think that when a person dies, it is obvious what killed him/her. But that is just not the case. In fact, everyone dies of a combination of ”heart stoppage” [cardiac arrest] and “cessation of breathing” which eventually leads to “brain death”. But these are not usually listed as the Cause of Death on a death certificate.

Covid Deaths are being counted and reported based on advice from the CDC, who has based its advice on advice from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (.pdf). More on what that means later.

Here he quotes from some of those instructions:

“Part I

This section on the death certificate is for reporting the sequence of conditions that led directly to death. The immediate cause of death, which is the disease or condition that directly preceded death and is not necessarily the underlying cause of death (UCOD), should be reported on line a. The conditions that led to the immediate cause of death should be reported in a logical sequence in terms of time and etiology below it.

The UCOD, which is “(a) the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death or (b) the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury” (7), should be reported on the lowest line used in Part I.”

[ source:  CDC here – .pdf ]

And so on. Dr. Hansen says: It’s complicated. Cause of death is usually difficult to state, even for experts, especially in older patients who have lots of problems competing to bump them off (not to put too fine a point on it.)

How does COVID reporting figure into this?

Reporting of Covid-19 Deaths

Here’s the pivot point on Covid-19 Deaths:

This is from the CDC’s weekly Covid report.  See the Column 2 heading?  It says “All Deaths Involving Covid-19 (U07.1)1”.  The keyword is INVOLVING.  To be perfectly clear, what is being reported by the CDC, as collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, are All (every one) Deaths (people dying) that Involved Covid-19.  See the little footnote indicator “1”? 

Footnote 1 says:  “COVID-19 deaths are identified using a new ICD–10 code. When COVID-19 is reported as a cause of death – or when it is listed as a “probable” or “presumed” cause — the death is coded as U07.1. This can include cases with or without laboratory confirmation.”

Not just verified cases in which Covid-19 was the immediate cause of death.   At least, to be even clearer, not necessarily what you, the average reader, would consider THE cause of death.

So, what exactly are they counting when the CDC and WHO report Covid-19 Deaths?  The World Health Organization’s official guidelines are:

2. DEFINITION FOR DEATHS DUE TO COVID-19

A death due to COVID-19 is defined for surveillance purposes as a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness, in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 caseunless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma). ….

A- RECORDING COVID-19 ON THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE OF CAUSE OF DEATH

COVID-19 should be recorded on the medical certificate of cause of death for ALL decedents where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.  

[ my emphasis – kh  source:  WHO here .pdf ]

Note that the Death Certificate — Cause of Death Part II is “Other significant conditions contributing to…”.  So, there is where Covid-19 (ICD code U07.1) would be written for any death in which Covid wasn’t “caused, or is assumed to have caused” but only contributed to the death.  If the decedent was a “Covid case” then he/she becomes a “Covid Death” if they die.  Read on . . .

For the general public, who want to know “How many people are being killed by the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic?”, this definition does not supply the answer to their question.  The vagueness and breadth of these definitions is exacerbated, in this “possibly-too-broad” sense, by the definitions being used to define “What is a Covid-19 case?”.  We see that the WHO definition of a Covid death includes “a probable or confirmedCOVID-19 case”.

“Case” as applied to COVID and as I’ve been harping on since Day 1, has inconsistent, ever-changing set of definitions, so much so as to be all but meaningless. Pre COVID, one pretty much had to show up at the doctor’s office or hospital with symptoms that required treatment and then be determined to have the disease, in order to be classified as a ‘case’ of measles or mumps or the Black Death. For COVID, asymptomatic people who test positive for antibodies are called cases; people with utterly generic symptoms such as coughs and fevers get classified as cases when they die of something else entirely – can you rule out that the cough and fever contributed to their death? Can you rule out the cough and fever were caused by COVID? If not, then iot goes on the death cert, the cert gets sent to the CDC, some minion keys it into the system, COVID shows up on it, and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, another COVID death! Easy Peasy!

Lots more in the article, Go read it.

B. This would be hilarious under less apocalyptic scenarios; here, it is just crazy-making. I often drive by a local skate park – a half-acre of smooth concrete with bowls and hills and towers that kids can try to kill themselves on. I approve. The city fenced it off so they can lock it up at night, and posted all sorts of rules – no bikes, no scooters, always wear a helmet and safety gear, and so on.

Kids routinely ignore all of this. You see bikes piloted by young kamikazes, helmetless, in shorts and t-shirts, racing around like the fools they are. And scooters, skaters, skateboards – it’s a popular spot.

The other day, saw a group of the typical young hooligans leaving the park, on scooters and bikes, no helmets or kneepads – all masked up. Yep, a paper mask is an essential safety measure for kids with a 0.0000something% risk from COVID; the helmet that might prevent a concussion or even death – far too intrusive.

Their mothers should be put in stocks and humiliated. (I started typing ‘parents’ but who are we kidding here? Who is this dad person, anyway?)

Real Science is Real Nit-Picky

You know, that Galileo dude – what a nitpicker! Anybody can see that a feather falls more slowly than a rock. Clearly, things fall in some proportion to their weight. All this elaborate climb the tower of Pisa, drop two balls of different weight, time it – he’s just trying to dispute what everybody knows and can see with their own two eyes with a bunch of rigmarole and irrelevant minutiae.

Right?

Dropping weights in space to test Einstein's general ...
And then he goes and builds a bunch of inclined planes! Will the preposterous shenanigans never stop?

Or that germ theory of disease. Really, little invisible beasties are making us sick? The medical consensus on the effectiveness of bloodletting is overwhelming, and has been for centuries! If it was good enough for George Washington, what kind of nut would dispute it?

And so on. I was called a nitpicker for pointing out that, based on their abstracts, the first 5 of the now-legendary 70 Studies(tm) that prove masks stop the spread of COVID do no such thing, because – well, now we get into nitpicking. My critic would no doubt have no idea what I even mean by saying, for example, a non-pre-registered meta-study comparing results from different states at different times is farcically flawed (1). Or that extrapolating results from clinical settings to the real world, and assuming any net reduction in infections in a surgery will just magically flow through to us greasy-fingered fumbling non-professionals using the same mask for hours, days, weeks at a time, is not justified, to put it mildly.

Then there’s the whole question of what a study is: it’s a study, an approach, a stab. At best – and rarely are any studies you’ve heard of ‘best’ in any positive sense – a study says that, this one time, doing things exactly like this, upon this population or data set, at this time and place, here’s what we got. The ubiquitous ‘further study is warranted’ with which modern studies always conclude is not always just a ‘please keep the funding coming’ pity-pitch. In those cases where a study uses a solid methodology upon a well-understood and defined population, AND gets interesting results, further study may very well be warranted. Maybe.

Further, as anyone paying attention knows, you can find studies that conclude whatever you want to conclude. Everything from ‘family beds kill babies’ to ‘space aliens built the pyramids’. Of course, there are also studies showing family beds are net better for babies and moms, and that the pyramids were built using simple tools, lots of smarts, and an insane amount of human muscle power. Thus, there are no doubt studies showing COVID is worse than the Black Death, social distancing and masks have saved millions of lives, and that this time, a vaccine for a constantly mutating airborne respiratory virus will work all the time with no unintended consequences at all.

It’s Science! Pay no attention to all the other studies and common sense that say otherwise.

Peer review? Please. You want to work in this town again, you don’t bash any of the thundering herd of our sacred cows stretching to the horizon. It would be cool if disinterested experts looked at papers critically and pointed out all their strengths and weaknesses – but, in the real world, that’s not what peer review means. It means: I have my buddies, people who might hire me in the future or who I might hire in the future, or be asked to recommend, or have to work alongside, take a look at my work, knowing full well everything that’s at stake if they look too critically.

Replication? Heard of that? Now you’re talking science. But you can’t get that PhD by replicating somebody else’s study – you have to do *original* work! Thus, with rare exceptions, efforts to replicate studies are works of charity – nobody is paying for it. Thus, in our fallen world, replication usually doesn’t happen.

What replication does for you is prove out the methodology. If I do – pretty much – exactly as you did in your study, I should get – pretty much – the same results. I can – and should – change data sets or populations to ones to which the ‘findings’ of the original study are said to apply. In other words, if the original study used college students but claimed or implied that the findings were generally applicable to entire population, I should be able to replicate the study using, I don’t know, long haul truckers and office clerks. Anything but more college students – unless the study specifically applies only to college students. In that latter case, if the study was done on Cambridge undergrads, I should run the protocol on Iowa State undergrads. And so on.

But none of this happens, except on rare occasions. A non-replicated study should be regarded as at best nothing more than an interesting rumor, something not to be believed or acted upon until a lot of supporting evidence comes in. Having a long series of non-replicated studies that all make the same or similar claims doesn’t make it any better. Lots of the same problem over and over again doesn’t make the problem go away. I’d be a lot more impressed if there were one study showing, say, that masks meaningfully reduce the spread of airborne viruses that got replicated 69 times with similar results, than I am by 70 independent studies showing kinda sorta comparable results. In fact, I’m not impressed by those 70 studies at all.

Because that’s how science – real science – really works.

Models are an expression of prejudice, and nothing more. Computer models even more so. Reliance on models is, in itself, proof you’re not talking about science at all. This is harsh, and years of training has made it difficult for many people, especially people with ‘science’ somewhere in their title or job description, to see this, but it is obvious and essential. If you knew the answer, you wouldn’t be building a model; since you don’t know the answer, you must build your model on assumptions. These assumptions are, necessarily and inescapably, expressions of your beliefs in the face of missing evidence. Your judgements in advance of the evidence. Your prejudices. No amount of math or processing cycles will make this problem go away. Models produce no evidence. At best, they point to places where you might look for evidence. Pretending models produce evidence is a sure sign of incompetence or fraud.

Finally, there’s Eisenhower’s warning to beware the government/science complex. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Thus, because science even back in 1960 was rarely the work of a lone genius laboring away in his meager, self-funded lab, but even then and more so now is rather something done in huge labs funded by the government and run by government bureaucracies, you’re only going to get to study issues the government – as bodied forth in those bureaucrats – is interested in; results they don’t like are unlikely to get funded.

And there’s nobody else out there to fund them. Research, and the findings of research, that the government doesn’t like are unlikely to ever see the light of day. This is reality.

I, a scientifically literate person, who, as this claim implies, have spent a lifetime, 50+ years, reading science, keep all these things and more in mind whenever presented with a claim that ‘science has shown’. I want to see the evidence, and how it was collected, and what reasoning was used, and what criticisms were offered, and how those criticisms were addressed. I want to see replication, and don’t give a flying goatherder if it’s been peer-reviewed or not. Failure at any of those points of examination means: science has NOT shown. I don’t care how pretty the claims are, or how passionate the clamant is. I don’t care how urgent the ‘problem’ is, nor how many people are sure it’s true. Science is built on evidence that can withstand withering criticism from ardent enemies. If your evidence is too fragile to stand up to opposition – if you feel the need to silence your opposition – you don’t have evidence. If you seek to silence your opponents while claiming science, you’re a despicable fraud.

Yep, I’m a nitpicker. That’s science for you.

  1. What I mean: Pre-registering your research means stating before you do it what exactly you’re going to do, to prevent you from cherry-picking your data for the results you want, even if you only ‘want’ them unconsciously. Meta-studies compare results from different studies, which raises a host of questions about if the methodologies and populations of the studies are even comparable: think: comparing, say, blood pressure between Bantu tribesmen in 1920 and Chicago suburbanites in 2020. Raises more questions than it answers. Similarly, if less obvious, it is ridiculous to compare infection rates pre-mask mandates and post mask mandates between, say, New York in March and April and Florida in May and June, without an impossible boatload of controls and caveats – which were not done. Dressing it up in a study just creates a well-dressed piece of crap.